Starsky Robotics takes a Different Approach to Autonomous Trucking
Self-driving truck start-up Starsky Robotics is taking a different approach than it’s competitors. Rather than offering fully autonomous trucks they are putting human drivers behind a remote control.
Starsky Robotics will use software, radar, and computer vision cameras to allow trucks to drive autonomously on the highway, but the job is then turned over to a licensed and experienced driver using a remote control to bring the truck from the exit to its final destination.
According to the company’s co-founder, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, removing the driver from the truck solves a major problem. “It’s really hard to get drivers; there’s a shortage of about 75,000 drivers right now and the turnover is 100% per year,” he said.
The lifestyle and time away from home is also a real problem for truck drivers. Seltz-Axmacher believes using the driver’s experience in a way that keeps him close to home solves many of the industry’s problems. Drivers will be employees of Starsky, which will have contracts with the fleets. One driver will be able to control between 10-30 trucks at a time.
The company has successfully moved a 5,000-pound load of empty milk crates about 180 miles with the truck driving autonomously about 85% of the time.
For now, the company is targeting long-haul fleets because it is primarily highway driving with short trips from the exit to the final destination. Because regulations for autonomous vehicles vary from state to state, the company will operate in states with the most permissive laws, which are Florida, Michigan, and Nevada.